TRYING TO WIN TEEN LINGO BINGO
THEY SAY I’ll be there in a minute. THEY MEAN I’ll be there in many minutes — as many as I can get away with. In fact, I am going to ignore that you called me to come so many times in the hope you forget all about whatever trivial matter you were going to ask me to do.
IF you think airpods are a type of pollen, Snapchat streaks are a form of nudity and Fortnite is a measurement of time, then chances are you don’t have a teenager living in your house.
Friends who have teens are tearing out their hair at this point in the school holidays.
“He gets up at noon, raids the fridge then goes back to bed,” says one.
“She doesn’t go anywhere or do anything,” says another.
“I can’t get him off his phone,” says a third. It’s a common refrain. If you think you’d have more luck getting your teen’s attention if you looked like a French fry, relax. (Or as they’d say, chill). You are not alone.
Here’s a guide to decoding what’s really going on in our kids’ heads. You won’t be surprised to know there’s a big gap between what they say and what they mean. They say: I’ll be there in a minute.
They mean: I’ll be there in many minutes — as many as I can get away with. In fact, I am going to ignore that you called me to come so many times in the hope you forget all about whatever trivial matter you were going to ask me to do.
They say: There’s never anything to eat in the house.
They mean: The fridge is full of leftovers (yuck) and healthy food like kale crisps. By telling you the fridge is empty, I am trying to make you feel unworthy as a parent and thus more likely to let me get pizza for dinner.
They say: I don’t have any homework.
They mean: Well, I do have maths homework but I don’t understand it and I am not a nerd like you who thinks homework is necessary. You’d have to pull the Wi-Fi out of the house for me to do it tonight because a new season of 13 Reasons Why has just hit Netflix and I need to work out why Hannah did it. Maths isn’t on my
radar. Wait. What’s a radar? They say: I’m tired.
They mean: I know you just asked me to unpack the dishwasher but I know that if I pretend to be tired for long enough you’ll get sick of the dirty dishes on the sink and do it yourself.
They say: Can I have some money to top up my Myki card?
They mean: I can’t ask for money for lunch from you because you’ll either give me $4 in 20c pieces and expect me to be grateful or you will make me a salad sandwich to take with me. We both know I don’t ever use my Myki anyway when I catch the tram, but it’s a lie we both seem willing to keep going for the sake of our relationship.
Parent: Why didn’t you answer my phone call? I was worried. Teen says: The battery ran out.
Teen means: I couldn’t be bothered to take your call as I knew you’d freak given that you pay $70 a month for my phone and I have unlimited calls and data and have my phone permanently attached to my palm, so there’s no real excuse for you to get my message bank. Again.
Parent: Dinner’s ready. Teen (who’s playing a video game) says: Just one more game.
Teen means: We both know games like this never end. If you let me, I’ll say ‘one more game’ for the next 48 hours.
Teen says: How about I sweep the front driveway? Teen means: I’ve ordered an HSP (Halal Snack Pack) with extra mayo on your UberEats account and need to be out the front when it’s delivered. Parent: Have you showered lately? Teen says: (sniffs armpits and makes a face) Nah, I’m good. Teen means: My armpit smells like something died up there but I can put up with it if you can.
Don’t forget there’s a certain look teenagers reserve for their parents when they’re forced to stop what they’re doing (even though it’s almost certainly nothing) and give them some face time. It’s a mixture of boredom, pity, amusement and hunger.
Remember, they’re not conversing with you, they’re just biding time until they can get back on their phone/laptop/video game.